The King who Stank
Or is it stunk? Anyway…he stinked. Today…my friends…we go
to the supermarket and we buy our soap. Dove for Mary…Irish
Spring for George. And after our shower…maybe a little shpritz
here and a little shpritz there…and we’re ready to face the
world…secure in the knowledge we won’t offend. But was it
always that way? Nay nay…mi amigos.
The Renaissance. A time for the rebirth of jewelry design. They
had beautiful stuff back in them thar days. Heck folks, I even
have a picture of a piece called a Pomander from back then.
You’ll see it soon.
There was…once upon a time…a king of England named Henry
VIII. Oh…what a magnificent man he was when decked out in all
his finery. He wore of a collar of gold with square and oval
pearls and rubies. His hat and his sleeves and the front of his
doublet were also decked out with enormous rubies. He wore, in
fact, the finest jewels of the royal collection.
The sperm whale’s intestine–you like this segue folks–the
sperm whale’s intestine produces an unhealthy looking, opaque,
ash colored secretion which is fragrant when heated and which is
used in perfumery. It is called Ambergris.
Dear old Henry was the first monarch to be educated under the
influence of the Renaissance. And while his dealings in the
political arena allowed some to attribute the characteristic to
him of the man with the elastic conscience…this did nothing to
inhibit his love of beautiful things. He was an accomplished
scholar, a linguist, a musician, an athlete, and a wearer of
items produced by the goldsmiths of the day.
The Pomander originated in the middle ages…a period whose end
is demarcated by the 15th century. However, our Pomander
continued on into the 16th century. It is a piece of jewelry in
the form of a hollow ball which was filled with either perfume in
paste form or with ambergris. They were very much in vogue at the
time…and spoke strongly of an era in which the most simplistic
rules of hygiene were pretty much ignored.
And so…in lieu of soap…folks with financial wherewithal
arose in the morning…donned their garb…slung a Pomander
filled with fine scents about the waist…and knew that the sweet
smell rising from their middles covered the morbid stench rising
right behind. And who said jewelry does not have its utilitarian
So…my friends…to see this golden Pomander…go to my home
page…scroll down the table menu till you get to the box that
says Tidbits…and click on Pomander.
And there ya have it.
That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.
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